We normally wouldn’t pay much attention to a Democratic primary race for a safe Democratic state House seat in Kansas, but this one has enough twists and turns to make for an interesting weekend read. Out in Kansas City, Kansas, the 37th district is represented by state Rep. Stan Frownfelter. He’s in his seventh term in a district that is so safe for Democrats that he hasn’t even faced a GOP opponent in five general elections. But this year he drew a primary challenge from a 19-year-old community college student.

On paper, Aaron Coleman looks like the sort of candidate who makes for a great American political story. He’s a dishwasher by trade and ran a campaign with no money, going through all of the neighborhoods and knocking on doors. He promised a platform of very liberal objectives. And when the votes were counted after the primary last Tuesday, Coleman held a five-vote lead over the incumbent. This week they’ll be looking at provisional ballots to see if that will change. The catch is that Coleman has a bit of a dark past for someone so young. (NBC News)

Democrats are scrambling to deal with the strong possibility that a 19-year-old candidate for a Kansas House seat in Kansas City will unseat a veteran lawmaker despite making incendiary comments on social media and acknowledging abusive behavior online toward girls in middle school.

Aaron Coleman, a dishwasher and community college student, holds a five-vote lead over seven-term state Rep. Stan Frownfelter, a 69-year-old small business owner. Officials in their home of Wyandotte County are scheduled to meet Monday to review provisional ballots and decide whether to count them, potentially altering Coleman’s 807-802 lead in voting.

Coleman is running a liberal platform that includes universal health coverage, eliminating college tuition, defunding the police and legalizing marijuana.

So what’s the problem with Coleman? He was apparently so much of a dark horse candidate that nobody bothered vetting him very much during the primary campaign. If they had, they would have learned sooner about his social media history, which includes a claim that he would “giggle” if a former GOP state lawmaker died of COVID-19. He also obtained a nude picture of one of his female, underage middle school classmates and threatened to send it around the school if she didn’t send him more naked pictures. When she refused, he indeed sent it to all his friends. He was also credibly accused of online bullying.

So now the state Democrats find themselves in a bit of a quandary. Only 1,609 people bothered to show up and vote in the Dem primary for that district, likely opening the door for Coleman’s long-shot campaign. But if the provisional ballots don’t tip the scales back in Frownfelter’s favor, Coleman could be on the way to the legislature in January. Given how much Democrats talk about Me Too and empowering women, somebody who engaged in an attempted revenge porn scheme isn’t exactly going to be their poster boy, is he?

For his part, Coleman isn’t denying any of it. He writes off those actions as the deeds of “a sick and troubled 14-year-old.” Claiming that he was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of 15, Coleman says that he’s “grown a great deal since then.”

On the one hand, if he’s owned up to his past misdeeds and claims to have grown up since then, shouldn’t he get the seat if he won the election fairly? At that same time, that’s a lot for people to forgive. And if he really was in possession of and distributing a naked picture of a middle-school girl, how was that case not at least taken to juvenile court under child pornography laws? Surely the statute of limitations hasn’t run out on that one yet.

It’s a hot mess to be sure. And Kansas Democrats will have a lot of uncomfortable press conferences coming up next year if Coleman winds up in office. But on the plus side, his dishwashing gig will probably be open for anybody else in need of a job.